[Image: E-4B National Airborne Operations Center, photo by FAS.]
Time magazine takes us on a mini tour of an odd "white Boeing 747 with the words 'United States of America' emblazoned on its side," better known to Pentagon types as the "Doomsday Plane." "With odd bumps and antenna protruding from its fuselage," the article tells us, "the modified 747 is the so-called 'National Airborne Operations Center' (NAOC)," a flying Pentagon, if you will, designed to keep the government's war room soaring free in the event of a catastrophic event, or disaster.
The NAOC on alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week — although there are four identical planes that rotate duty, and also serve as backup to Air Force One.
Unlike Air Force One, the NAOC can refuel in midair and is designed and supplied with engine oil, and food and water for the crew to be able to stay aloft for days. Its full crew includes intelligence analysts, communications specialists, maintenance troops, and even its own security force. It constantly monitors all major U.S. commands and the location of nuclear forces, keeps an eye on potentially hostile military troops, gathers intelligence data, and monitors the whereabouts of every U.S. government official in the line of succession. The NAOC also carries with it at all times about a dozen of the most relevant war plans in case senior officers need them at hand.
We truly have entered the age of the flying fortress with secret jetliner taxis, airborne penthouses, stealthy airport-squatting mobile gulags, instant democracies and deployable pneumatic parliaments. You might say the skies have turned into a full blown aerial privatopia up there most of us will probably never see, much less even know about.
Unless it all comes falling from the sky one day in a kind of architectural hail storm of defunct government fuselages, disposable extraordinary rendition torture chambers, future fossils of jet-propelled Google headquarters, all tumbling from the clouds together in great bombastic chunks of classified debris, toppled by record breaking atmospheric pressures and freakish electromagnetic storms.
Just make sure to look out.
(spotted at Boing Boing).